Broaches may be a bit too 90’s for your choice of apparel, but when flaunted on the lapel of negotiation power woman Madeline Albright, they packed some serious semiotic power.
As U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Albright was faced with a rather undiplomatic comment: former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein referred to her as a serpent. Instead of reacting the provocation with a jab of equal pettiness, Albright took the opportunity to make statement. She retrieved an old pin from her collection and wore it at every future negotiation with Iraq: a snake pin.
Two decades on, in a purportedly more progressive and respectful world, such slings and slurs are not an uncommon experience for professional woman. Whether they be a manifestation of prejudices that take more than a generation to phase out, or a reaction to the tumultuous and confronting political climate of 2019, snarky verbiage is a reality woman continue to face.
Rather than delving deeper into the point of how unfortunate it is that educated professionals still cannot behave with more decorum, let me take this opportunity to reflect on the lesson that Albright’s broaches can teach us.
Power can be presented with poise. We do not have to shout to be heard or laud over our counterparts to be seen. Nor is the broach the sole totem of female power. A favorite fierce pantsuit, a fun set of personalized pens, a fiery shade of red: whatever reminds you to rise above the vitriol and play the game with strength and sangfroid is worth it.
Though we do not possess the power to change our counterparts’ countenance, we do possess the power to rise above it!
With thanks to: NPR